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What does a slash mean in an abbreviation? [Oct. 23rd, 2008|04:12 pm]
Research done inspired by a discussion on gale.

It turns out that it's pretty hard to find a list of abbreviations with slashes in them, so since I did some work I thought I'd post it to my blog.

24/7 = 24 hours at 7 days a week
A/B = acid/base
A/G = air-to-ground
ADHD-PH/I = Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - Primarily Hyperactive/Impulsive
B/E = bill of exchange
B/L = bill of lading
B/U = backup
CSMA/CD = carrier sense multiple access with collision detection
D/P = documents against payment
I/O = input/output
L/C = letter of credit
P/E = price-to-earnings
TCP/IP = Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol
a/c = antecubital; account; Air Conditioning
a/k/a = also known as
b/c = because
b/w = backed with; black-and-white
m/o = months old
n/a = not available; not applicable
o/b/o = on behalf of; or best offer
s/n = sin numero (without number)
sa/vol = surface area to volume
w/ = with
w/c = wheelchair; week commencing
w/i = within
w/o = without
w/off = write-off
w/r = with respect to
y/o = years old

In general, it seems like the slash stands for three possible things:
1. A preposition.
2. Concatenation, as in, the original phrase was either hyphenated or a joined compound (such as "wheelchair") and not separate words.
3. A conjunction -- you could say that the slash stands for a slash, or you could say that it stands for a conjunction like "and" or "or".

There are a few exceptions. "y/o" and "m/o" don't have the above reasons; one possibility is that "yo" and "mo" look more like words? But "M.O." is often used as "modus operandi", so that can't be the only reason. The "with" family also has it, perhaps because "with" is per se a preposition. "n/a" and "a/c" (for "air conditioning") seem to defy reason.

Oh, and one more that I left out, because it seemed appropriate to leave to the end:

TL/DNR = too long, did not read

[User Picture]From: zotmeister
2008-10-23 11:46 pm (UTC)
There's also 'd/b/a' ("doing business as") in that orphan category. - ZM
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From: lardarsegreg
2008-10-24 12:03 am (UTC)
b/f = brought forward
c/f = carried forward - these 2 mostly seen in finanial statements.

w/e = whatever - this would look like a word as well, though.

I have never seen "aka" written like that before. Also, in the UK, "ono" (or nearest offer) is the more common form.

Also, the last one is more usually written as "tl;dr".
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[User Picture]From: joee_girl
2008-10-24 04:11 am (UTC)
b/t = between
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[User Picture]From: jiggery_pokery
2008-10-24 09:04 am (UTC)
Ahem. In many branches of fandom, when referring to a piece of creative work such as a story, a slash is often used as shorthand to indicate two or more (usually fictional) characters who are depicted as being in a relationship within that piece of work.

Historically this is believed to have originated with Kirk/Spock fiction from several decades ago, portraying a romantic relationship betwen the two Star Trek: TOS characters, relatively often abbreviated to K/S, and "slash fiction" as a genre is often used to refer to transformative works reinterpreting existing characters as taking part in gay relationships. However, the abbreviative practice of using slashes to indicate romantic pairings in stories (etc.) is used more generally in fandom regardless of the gender balance of the characters involved in the pairing, for instance Romeo/Juliet or, say, Luke/Leia. When it is expected that people will be familiar with the characters in a story, these will often be abbreviated to give you many more, admittedly rather specialised, letter-slash-letter abbreviations for the list. (An exception to this: stories based on manga or anime often use the letter x instead of this slash. I can't even begin to explain why.)

I probably see w/e for "week ending" more frequently than w/c for "week commencing", too.
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[User Picture]From: ztbb
2008-10-24 04:09 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: devjoe
2008-10-24 06:33 pm (UTC)
AC/DC (alternating current/direct current) in the slash/conjunction category.
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[User Picture]From: cyrebjr
2008-11-02 07:42 pm (UTC)
Also c/o (care of) in addresses. Actually, do you mind these additions?
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From: ext_192781
2009-06-08 10:05 pm (UTC)


I have long wondered why the abbreviation for air conditioning is commonly spelled with a slash ("A/C" or "a/c") instead of, say, "A.C.," "a.c.," or just "AC". I guess concatenation (rule #2 in your post) is in effect here, but that still doesn't explain why the slash spelling seems more common than the other variants. My guesses:

* A/C uses one fewer character than A.C., which may have come in handy for fitting the abbreviation into newspaper classified ads, where it has often been employed.

* The slash distinguishes it from the abbreviation for alternating current ("AC" or "ac"), which preceded air conditioning in history -- indeed, without the long-distance transmission of electricity made possible by AC, A/C would not be nearly as prevalent today.
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